Exciting Educational Enhancements

Introducing SOA micro-credentials and affiliate memberships Stuart Klugman and Amanda Hug

Photo: iStock.com/gremlin

On July 12, 2021, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) announced two exciting enhancements to its associateship pathway: the introduction of micro-credentials and affiliate memberships. Read on to learn more about how these changes offer important recognition and community for aspiring actuaries.

Micro-credentials Overview

The nature of credentialing and skill development in the professional landscape is changing, with an enhanced interest in customized, stackable credentials and just-in-time education. While the meaning and value of the ASA and FSA designations remain unchanged, micro-credentials respond to this evolution and recognize smaller, yet still meaningful, educational accomplishments. For those on the path to ASA, they are milestone markers and a convenient way to inform others about progress made. For candidates who leave the pathway to pursue other—perhaps actuarial-related—careers, micro-credentials represent significant accomplishments awarded by an organization with high standards.

To date, there have been three approved micro-credentials. For all three, the required components are a subset of the ASA requirements, so extra work is not required to earn one. There is no fee or application process associated with claiming a micro-credential, nor are there specific professionalism or continuing education requirements (aside from adherence to the Code of Conduct for Candidates). Think of these micro-credentials as more akin to a university degree rather than a professional designation. For that reason, holding one of these credentials does not convey practice rights.

The three micro-credentials are:

  1. Pre-Actuarial Foundations represents the skills required to learn how to solve actuarial problems but with limited actuarial context. These skills include accounting, corporate finance, economics, probability, financial mathematics and advancing candidates’ adaptability and emotional quotients (AQ/EQ). The latter will be accomplished via a new e-Learning module.
  2. Actuarial Science Foundations adds analytics and the basics of actuarial techniques to the components required for the Pre-Actuarial Foundations micro-credential along with additional AQ/EQ training. Those holding this micro-credential are equipped to work alongside actuaries in a technician role. Many organizations employ such technicians, and this micro-credential provides recognition of those skills.
  3. Data Science for Actuaries comprises the three components of the ASA pathway related to analytics. This micro-credential demonstrates knowledge in data science that would be recognized in nonactuarial areas of a financial services company.

Affiliate Membership

While the micro-credentials do not convey membership, the SOA created two new classes of affiliate membership to invite a broader audience into the SOA community. Each comes with assorted benefits, and in the second case, responsibilities. They are:

  1. Affiliate membership is available to anyone interested in becoming an actuary or working with aspiring actuaries (such as professors, career counselors or nonactuaries working with students and candidates). While an application is required, there are no dues nor obligations. Benefits include access to mentorship, networking and events to support their career journey.
  2. Professional affiliate membership is available upon earning the second or third micro-credentials. Members at this level will pay modest dues and be held to a code of conduct. Benefits include the opportunity to serve on various volunteer committees, access to career and leadership development opportunities and peer-based community engagement.

Learn More

More information is available, such as launch dates for components of the micro-credentials that are under development. Additional details regarding the membership categories will be published as they become available (October 2021 for affiliate membership and January 2022 for professional affiliate membership).

We invite you to share this exciting news with your colleagues, particularly those who will be eligible for the new micro-credentials and membership tiers. As we welcome more students, candidates and professionals into our community, it strengthens our profession as a whole.

Stuart Klugman, FSA, CERA, is senior staff fellow, Education, at the Society of Actuaries.
Amanda Hug, FSA, MAAA, is a director at Willis Towers Watson.

Copyright © 2021 by the Society of Actuaries, Schaumburg, Illinois.